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Ask Amy

Meet the parents — now where are the pills?

Q. Our daughter (age 22) has been dating a man (age 27) for seven months. She just finished college and they met at the restaurant where they both work.

Recently they both stayed with us for a few days. One day he asked to use our shower in the master bathroom. I thought it a bit strange but said yes.

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Afterward, I am not sure why (call it mother’s intuition) but I checked an area that is tucked away in a closet where I had some Oxycodone (about 14 tablets that were prescribed to me but which I no longer take). I was shocked when I found the box empty.

At the end of the visit he tearfully told us that he had stolen the pain pills and took two of them. He said he panicked and flushed the rest down the toilet.

He told us he has struggled with a pain pill addiction for many years. He has had two relapses in the past six months. We were relieved that he came forward but now are terrified at what this could mean for our daughter. We had concerns from the beginning that this guy just didn’t seem to have his life all together. Now we know why.

We think she is being very naive about addiction and that he really cannot be trusted until he can prove to her that he is clean. She thinks he’s “fine.”

He has a very strong and convincing personality and is very good with people. He worried we would call the police about his theft. He told our daughter how much he likes us — and with our help he can get through this.

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This makes me feel like he is manipulating us. He does not have a good relationship with his own family (possibly because of this type of behavior). Should we ask him to let us talk to his family?

A. If you believe this man flushed 12 Oxycodone pills down the toilet, then you are also naive about the disease of addiction.

This relapsing addict will not get better on his own. As nice as he is, the very common sense reaction on your part should be that he is not welcome in your home until he can prove to you that he has successfully completed rehab. That’s actual rehab, mind you — not a self-professed cold turkey cure.

Don’t get overly involved in this man’s considerable problems; stay emotionally close with your daughter, and do your best to educate her about the reality of being with an addict. She would benefit from professional counseling and/or Al-Anon meetings.

Read (and share with her) “The New Codependency: Help and Guidance for Today’s Generation” by Melody Beattie (2009, Simon and Schuster).

Q. I’m a 20-year-old student home for the summer. While at college I learned to do a lot on my own and became independent. When I came home, I expected my parents to accept me as a grown-up. However, my mom and dad still feel that it is necessary to treat me like a child by reminding me not to spill anything on my shirt or advising me not to be out too late on a weekend.

I want them to stop, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. How do I ask them in a tactful way to treat me like an adult?

A. Tell your folks calmly, “I love you both. I appreciate you so much. But if you’ll step back, you’ll notice that I’ve grown up in the last couple of years. It’s been ages since I spilled anything on my shirt. You did a great job raising me — but I can take it from here.”

You can contact Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy.

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